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Pan-Asian Railway

Pan-Asian Railway Network is part of 80,900-km total in length Trans-Asian Railway Network, initiative of UNESCAP in 1992 when it launched the Asian Land Transport Infrastructure Development project. An agreement signed in 2006 by 17 Asian nations as part of UNESCAP effort to build a transcontinental railway network between Europe and Pacific ports in China. Pan-Asian Railway Network is also known as Kunming–Singapore Rail Link.

*  UNESCAP – United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific
* Pan-Asian Railway Network also known as Kunming – Singapore Rail Link
** Trans-Asian Railway was initially proposed in the 1950s, with the objective of providing a continuous 14,080 km rail link between Singapore and Istanbul, Turkey, with possible further connections to Europe and Africa.
** A big challenge is the differences in rail gauge across Eurasia.  Five different major rail gauges exist across the continent: most of Europe, as well as Turkey, Iran, China, and the Koreas use the 1,435 mm gauge, known as Standard gauge; Russia, and the former Soviet republics use a 1,520 mm gauge; Finland uses a 1,524 mm gauge; the railways in India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka use the 1,676 mm gauge, known as Indian gauge; and most of Southeast Asia has 1,000 mm meter gauge.

Kunming – Singapore Rail Link Project

Kunming Singapore Rail Link Project or simply Kunming – Singapore Railway also known as Pan-Asian Railway Network, consists of 3 routes, namely

  • Central Route:
    • Kunming – Yuxi – Mohan- Boten – Luang Prabang – Vientiane – Nong Khai – Khorat – Bangkok – Kuala Lumpur – Singapore
  • Western Route:
    • Kunming – Dali – Baoshan – Ruili – Yangon – Bangkok – Kuala Lumpur – Singapore
  • Eastern Route:
    • Kunming – Yuxi – Mengzi – Hekou – Hanoi – Ho Chi Minh – Phnom Penh – Bangkok – Kuala Lumpur – Singapore

The stretch between Kunming – Yuxi – Mohan- Boten – Luang Prabang – Vientiane, known as Central Route was officially opened on the 03-December-2021. This is another major milestone towards the building of Pan-Asian railway network.

Pan-Asian Railway Network is also one of the 6 Economic Corridors under Belt and Road Initiative – BRI, called China-Indochina Peninsula Corridor. Which was launched by Chinese President Xi Jinping in 2013 with the intent to enhance connectivity by means of transport infrastructure development.

Building Southeast Asia’s 4,400km Mega Railway

8-August-2021 Behind Asia

Proposed Pan-Asian Railway Network

Bangkok-Nongkhai High-Speed Rail Link

This Bangkok – Nong-khai Highspeed Railway project is called Sino-Thai Railway Project in Thailand, also known as Northeastern High-Speed Rail Line, signed between China and Thailand in 2014 as part of the Kunming – Singapore Railway Link, also known as Pan-Asian Railway Link.

The line is Dual standard-gauge tracks designed at a speed of 250km/h would be from Bang Sue Grand station, laid through Kaeng Khoi Junction, Nakhon Ratchasima then Nong Khai, bordering the capital city of Laos – Vientiance. From Kaeng Khoi Junction, another route would link southward to Map Ta Phut industrial Port.

Bangkok to Nakhon Ratchasima section is 1 of the 2 phases of Bangkok Nong-khai Highspeed Rail Link, now under construction. Projected to be operational in 2026.
Whereas, the 2nd phase Nakhon Ratchasima – Nong-khai section has completed design, is projected to be ready by 2029. 

In conjunction with the Highspeed Rail Link construction, Thai Rail Transport Department has unveiled a plan to develop areas in Nong-Khai to prepare for a rail connection with Laos, to speed up more trades with China.

  • An 80-rai site at the Nong Khai railway station would be developed as a depot to handle international trade
  • A new bridge over Mekong River exclusively for trains, in parallel with the 1st Thai-Lao Friendship Bridge

It is also envisioned that the Highspeed Rail Line would

  • Move goods between Yunnan and Laem Chabang deep-sea port with better efficiency
  • Facilitate promotion of Tourism, Trade and Investment, especially in the Eastern Economic Corridor
  • Enable Thai products to reach southern China in less than two days, instead of two or three days on land
  • Create a greater opportunity for Thailand to send more products, particularly fresh fruits to China

Thailand Railway Lines

Gemas – JB Electrified Double-Tracking project in Malaysia

Gemas – Johor Bahru Electrified Double-Tracking project is the last section of the Peninsular West Coast Line, Padang Besar – Kuala Lumpur – Johor Bahru rail link, also known as Electric Train Service or ETS of  Railway Malaysia. It is not only part of Kunming – Singapore railway network, but also facilitating cargo shipments between Port Klang in Selangor and Tanjung Pelepas Port in Johor. The project is expected to be completed in 2023. 

Gemas is also the junction to Tumpat, the East Coast Line from Gemas, upon completion would make Gemas an important transportation hub in the southern region of peninsular Malaysia. 

Shuttle bus service is currently available between JB Sentral and Singapore’s Woodlands Checkpoint.

KTM-EDTP Progress – Main Station Kempas Baru, Kluang & Segamat

6-August-2021 Southern Corridor Malaysia

Johor Bahru–Singapore Rapid Transit System – RTS

It was proposed by Singapore in 2011, to Malaysia that a cross border rail link be connected to the northernmost station of the Thomson-East Coast line, Woodlands North. In 2015, Malaysia terminus was confirmed to be at Bukit Chagar.

  • The link will be a modern Light Rail Transit system that will provide high volume, fast and efficient transport system between the two stations, at a distance of 4km across Johor Strait
  • With integrated and co-located immigration, custom & quarantine facilities at both stations, passengers clear departure and arrival procedures at their point of departure only once
  • The link will be integrated with public transport systems at both sides, providing an alternative means of transportation that will help alleviate the congested checkpoints for both countries
  • The designed capacity of 10,000 passengers per hour, per direction. But expected ridership of about 40,000 passengers per day during initial operating period
  • Bukit Chagar station will be connecting to KTM / ETS intercity trains in JB Sentral
  • Woodlands North station will be connecting to Thomson–East Coast Line
  • The Construction started in November 2020 at Malaysian site, in January 2021 on the Singaporean section started
  • Scheduled to be operational by 2026, upon RTS opening, the existing shuttle train service would be discontinued
RTS project official Video

Malaysia Railway Lines

Gemas – JB Electrified Double-tracking project
Graphic: ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute/The Star

Opening of Cambodia Railroad Puts Pan-Asian Railway On Track

KUALA LUMPUR, 22 OCTOBER, 2010: The first segment of a new international standard railroad, co-financed by international donors including Malaysia, officially opened in Cambodia today, a major step towards the creation of a long-awaited Pan-Asian railroad.

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) is providing US$84 million in support of the reconstruction and repair of 650 kilometers (404 miles) of rail stretching from Cambodia’s border with Thailand, through the capital city of Phnom Penh, and southward to Sihanoukville, the country’s main seaport.

Australia provided the additional US$21.5 million while Malaysia contributed 106 km (66 miles) of track worth US$2.8 million in support of the US$141 million project.

ADB said in a statement today that Cambodia allocated US$20.3 million for the rail project while the other co-financiers include the OPEC Fund for International Development with US$13 million.

Freight service has commenced along a 120km (75 mile) stretch of rail between Phnom Penh and Touk Meas, near the Vietnamese border. The entire rail line is scheduled to be operational by 2013.

“We are on the cusp of a contiguous Iron Silk Road stretching from Singapore to Scotland,” said Kunio Senga, director-general of ADB’s Southeast Asia Department.

“This possibility has been talked about for decades, but today the dream has finally taken a big step towards becoming a reality.”

Decades of conflict have left Cambodia’s railroad in serious disrepair, with rail traffic slowly declining to a trickle.

In some parts of the country, homemade lorries – simple, makeshift bamboo platforms powered by water-pump motors – are the main form of rail transport along the antiquated tracks.

Cambodia’s less developed transportation network and the country’s higher transportation costs result in higher prices for imported and locally-made goods compared to neighboring countries.

ADB said the new railway would help lower the cost of staple commodities that poor Cambodian families relied on for sustenance.

“This new railroad represents another important step for Cambodia in overcoming its legacy of conflict,” said Senga. “With better infrastructure and closer economic ties with its neighbors, Cambodians are enjoying a peace dividend more than ever before.”

Once Cambodia’s new railroad is ready, only one link, between Phnom Penh and Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, will remain before a Pan-Asian railway is complete.

Cambodia and Vietnam have already signed an agreement to link their railways, and China is supporting a design study on a rail link from Phnom Penh to Loc Ninh, Vietnam.

The railway rehabilitation project is a vital component of the Greater Mekong Subregion’s southern economic corridor – linking Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam – and is a key component of Asean’s Singapore-Kunming Rail Link Project.

Toll Holdings, an Australian company, has been awarded a 30-year contract to operate and maintain the rehabilitated railway system.

– Bernama – 22 October 2010

Royal Railway | Train to Phnom Penh @ Battambang

21-April-2021 Adam BIT

Trans-Asian Railway Network